Move over, potatoes! There’s a new chip in town. Banana chips are hella tasty. But are they any better for you than slipping on a banana skin?
Well, only slightly…
What are banana chips — and are they good for you?
Banana chips are fried slices of (you guessed it!) banana. Manufacturers usually coat them in sugar, honey, syrup, salt, or spices.
Raw bananas are delicious and nutritious. Banana chips, however, aren’t nearly as healthy. They’re highly processed and full of added fats and sugars.
In case you’re skeptical of a difference between bananas that crunch and those that squish, we rounded up the nutritional info and finally put to rest the debate on banana chips.
Granted, it isn’t fair to compare processed food to fresh fruit, so we also put banana chips in the ring against other types of chips to see how they square up.
Banana chips start off healthy — they’re just unripened bananas cut into slices. But that’s where the healthiness peels away.
The slices are fried in cooking oil until crispy. Then they’re coated in sugary stuff like syrup or honey. Between the frying and the flavors, you’re getting a whole bunch of extra saturated fat and calories.
Here are the nutrition deets for a one-cup portion.
To be fair, banana chips do contribute to your daily haul of some important nutrients.
According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, banana chips provide around 8 percent of your daily potassium and over 11 percent of the vitamin B6 you need. They also pack in a decent amount of fiber.
Nutrients are lit and everything, but the meager pros of these unsuspecting chips don’t outweigh the calorific cons.
Don’t be so quick to shrug off banana chips forever — they have their place, as do we all.
For starters, they’re an instant source of simple carbs and calories. So, if you’re hunting for a mojo boost while you’re on the go, they’ll have you covered.
Pro tip: They make a great snack if you’re on a hike or in need of a boost after a sweat sesh.
Chips also have a longer shelf life than the real thing. That means you don’t have to watch a bunch of bananas slowly die on your kitchen counter (even after swearing to finally make some quarantine banana bread).
They also won’t bruise if you drop them like they’re hot. If you’re throwing banana chips (or, indeed, bananas) around your kitchen willy-nilly, it may be time to reassess your relationship with produce.
Banana chips definitely have some drawbacks. Here’s the lowdown.
High in sugar
Many banana chips have a syrup or honey coating. This really bumps up their yumminess and their sugar content.
A single cup provides 25 grams of sugar, a lot of which is processed. Meanwhile, a medium raw banana has about 14.5 grams of natural sugars.
High in fat
Banana chip manufacturers (henceforth referred to as “bananulators”) tend to fry banana chips, giving them that crunchy and tasty texture.
However, doing so adds a bunch of fat to the humble banana’s inventory. A single cup has 24 grams of fat (and 21 of those grams are saturated fats).
A case study showed that saturated fats from processed foods could also contribute to heart disease, although the link between heart disease and saturated fats isn’t as clear as studies once thought (and they may even provide some health benefits).
Fried bananas are delicious. But you may eat more chips than you bargained for — especially if you’re assuming they’re just harmless lil’ bananas in another form.
If you’re managing your body weight and following a low fat or low cal diet, they could throw a wrench in your plans.
The added fats, sugars, and flavoring make for lots of extra calories.
For perspective, a cup of ‘nana chips provides 374 calories, while the same amount of raw banana caps off at 134 calories.
If you don’t get out to exercise much, it may be hard to burn off those calories. The extra cals may then contribute to weight gain and its potential health concerns, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
A legit banana is way better for you than banana chips. But sometimes, you just want something salty, crunchy, and sweet. (We feel that).
Here’s how banana chips compare to other popular chips:
|Raw banana, medium
|Banana chips, 1 cup
|Potato chips, 1 cup
|Veggie chips, 1 cup
But keep in mind, these other chippies are less filling. You might eat more in a single sitting than you would eat banana chips.
It’s all in the portion size.
How to choose healthier banana chips
Choose dehydrated, dried, or baked banana chips over fried varieties. If you remove frying from the equation, you can cut out a fair few calories.
You can also pick a brand that uses herbs and spices for flavor instead of syrups or sugar.
Banana chips might seem healthy, but they’re actually loaded with unessential ingredients, as well as excess calories, fats, and sugar.
Sometimes, you don’t feel like you can get that crunchy sweetness anywhere else — and that’s fine. But consider brands that use natural, unsweetened flavors without the frying if you’d prefer a more nutritious option.
Or, just… eat a banana.
If you’re simply interested in banana delivery systems, we found 31 delicious ways to get your banana on.